Just south of Tokyo sits the shining city of Yokohama. The city, best known for its beautiful cityscapes where its trademark Ferris wheel known as the ‘Cosmo Clock’ shines all colours of the rainbow throughout the night. The city also prides itself on having the largest Chinatown as well as being one of the first ports in Japan to open up its gates to foreigners. The port is also home to the up and coming nu-metalcore band which call themselves One Eye Closed who are slowly but surely climbing their way into the Japanese music scene and hopefully into the global market too. The band have officially been active since January 2018 and the quartet which currently makes up One Eye Closed includes lead vocalist Rei, lead guitarist Takaki, bass guitarist Yasu and drummer Masato. Half way across the globe a connection was made between Sounds of the Rising Sun and the Yokohama dwellers as lead vocalist Rei offered to share his personal story along with One Eye Closed’s story with us. Rei delves into their musical journey, giving western audiences a real look into their overall style and what the band are all about. Before we get to that though, this story has to start somewhere and does not begin in Japan but instead crosses more than one continent.
“I was born in the Philippines and then I moved to America at a very young age” Rei begins. “I was already used to switching languages, but the curiosity for Japan grew, so I kept studying the language and the culture”. “I have always been into Japanese culture and music, so I took that as an opportunity to study Japanese seriously. Having the right Japanese education and a lot of practice with Japanese friends, I took it upon myself to start writing lyrics in Japanese.” Rei’s passion for Japanese culture bled through into his musical ventures whilst living in the United States as he began working in the California based J-rock band Coast in the Clouds in which he took on the roles of guitarist, vocalist and songwriter. His time in Coast in the Clouds allowed time to practice his Japanese as Rei explains “I also wanted to help fortify the bridge between Japan and America even more by blending the languages together, in hopes of getting a diverse community of listeners.” This period of Rei’s career did not last for very long but his decision to leave the band did not come from a clash as many bands find themselves in but it instead came from an opportunity which he could not refuse, to live in a country which Rei had always taken a liking to, Japan. “Due to the distance, I had to leave the band. Still, I didn’t forget my dream of playing music in Japan”. Rei describes that guitarist Takaki reached out whilst he was still living in the United States in hopes of possibly collaborating with him and his former Coast in the Clouds band mate Allison at some point. “I let him know that I was moving to Japan” and after that, “he quickly jumped on the idea of forming a band, which I agreed to after hearing his music” and, as they say, the rest is history.
Rei’s well-travelled and multicultural views on things means that languages are not an issue when concerned with creating meaningful music and lyrics in a variety of languages. “I largely believe in lyrics” he states. “But, I can understand that not everybody can understand Japanese and/or English. So, I truly believe in conveying the message of a song through melodies, dynamics, rhythm and song structure.” Although One Eye Closed have lyrics which often heavily focus on the use of English, Rei still firmly believes “if you can feel the song’s emotion without having to know what the lyrics say, then I think that’s what makes a song so powerful.” One Eye Closed continue to work on and create music and lyrics which can break barriers no matter which languages listeners can speak. Along with their own music Rei believes that Japanese artists are slowly gaining more and more success over time and the language barriers are finally beginning to break between Japan and western countries. “The language barrier has been coming down with the help of K-pop and Japanese acts like One OK Rock or X-Japan”. He credits bridging this gap to technology such as the internet explaining that “the world is becoming closer and smaller”.
One Eye Closed’s inspiration when it comes to music reaches far and wide as the group are inspired by many artists from both the East and the West. One Eye Closed are influenced by so many artists and genres that they often find it hard to pigeonhole themselves into a specific genre. Instead Rei says they have opted for “loosely call ourselves a nu-metalcore band”. “Initially, we pulled a lot of influences from western bands, like ISSUES, Hands like Houses, Linkin Park, Siamese, Hacktivist, to name a few. Though we of course throw in a lot of Japanese musical influences naturally, especially with chord progression, song structure, and melodies.” As Rei was typing up the answers for this interview he expressed that he was currently listening to Uplift Spice/The Musmus, a Japanese punk rock band. Alongside Rei’s list of influential artists each member of One Eye Closed also have their own unique musical background which have combined together for their overall sound. “Our friendship and trust for each other is strong” states Rei as he explains their writing and recording process. “Generally, Takaki comes up with a basic song structure and composition. He then passes it to me to start writing vocals and lyrics. We then record a quick demo for it and pass it to Yasu and Masato. After they work out their parts, we go into the studio and work it out as a band, giving our input and listening to each other, until we all come to an agreement. It takes a while, but it’s worth it in the end.”
Whilst One Eye Closed are still in their early years of development as a group, Rei and his band mates have already some crazy experiences. Rei reminisces over some of the craziest moments for them and states that there are so many memories for him to choose from that it is hard narrow it down his favourite moments. “I’m grateful for all the moments” says Rei pondering some of the stories to tell. After some contemplation Rei tells Sounds of the Rising Sun “The moment that really kicked us off was when we played a show with an American band A Scent like Wolves. They also had the band Sailing Before the Wind in the roster, whose leader is the supporting bass player for Crystal Lake. He recorded part of our set, shared it on Twitter and it was due to this that we started getting live show offers, so we’re very grateful.” Along with a boost to their social media and musical status Rei shares that the Crystal Lake vocalist Ryo Kinoshita also came out to the gig and they ended up hanging out together backstage to chat with Rei and company. Another crazy moment Rei recalls for this interview was “when we played in a venue in Shibuya called CYCLONE. After we played some of our songs, the crowd started chanting our band name. I was a little surprised and of course very happy. Then, suddenly, Masato, Yasu, and Takaki started jamming a djenty riff to the rhythm of the crowd chanting our name.”
For now, One Eye Closed seem to be sticking within the confines of Japan with their tour schedule. That being said, the band seem eager to do some more travelling if possible as when asked about possible visits to the UK and Europe Rei says that “if we can build a following there we would love to!” Although One Eye Closed may not have One Ok Rock or X-Japan status just yet, their sound grows by the day as Rei tells that their next step is to release their very first EP sometime this year and urges Sounds of the Rising Sun to keep our eyes peeled for their debut release.
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